Meet the Cast

The cast features various officials across Southern California representing a diverse group. They are high school officials aiming for a playoff assignment, college officials looking for promotions and key decision-makers at various levels of football.

Each of them has a unique story that includes family life; individual career aspirations; working through issues of race, gender and sexual orientation; improving as an official both in the rule book and on the field; making ends meet; and a whole host of issues that humanize the officiating experience.

Karina Tovar

She is the only woman in her high school unit and was recently promoted to be the first female football official in the ACC, one of the Power Five football conferences. Tovar does not shy away from sharing intense stories of what it’s like being on and off the field. Based on her career trajectory, Tovar has a strong chance to advance to the NFL.

Telvin Griffin

He is an actor, church choir music director, and officiates youth football as a side job. He is from Texarkana, Arkansas, about two hours east of Dallas. Griffin loves being on the field with young athletics. A former walk-on football player at the Univ. of Arkansas, he also loves making people smile, laugh, and see their true potential.

Brandon Sampson

He is the President of the Los Angeles high school football officiating unit, recently graduated with his Early Childhood bachelor’s degree, and is raising two young sons. Brandon’s officiating and the intensity it brings creates many stressful demands on himself and his family. His officiating career hangs in the balance as he navigates his officiating, personal and professional lives.

Jade McCrary

She is a Partnership Sales Specialist for SponsorUnited and an up-and-coming official in Conference USA. McCary started officiating when she was an undergrad. Her dad encouraged her to give officiating a chance since he is a college football official in Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). After her first games, she was hooked. To advance her career, she moved to Los Angeles, as many NFL officials have come from Southern California. McCrary says her common pursuit of officiating football has brought her closer to her dad. They travel to football camps together and talk about football in almost every conversation. She doesn’t think that they would have had the chance to spend as much time together if she didn’t officiate.

Teri Cook

She is Language Arts/English middle school teacher in Palmdale, about an hour outside of Los Angeles, and originally from New Orleans. She started officiating football a few years ago when a friend told her to try it out. For the past ten years, Cook has officiated in volleyball and this year will mark her fifth year as a football official. Cook enjoys working with students and seeing them progress while building relationships with the coaches to help support young athletes. She attends football camps in the off-season to get better, but not to necessarily move up or advance. She runs a catering business bringing soul food to Southern California.

Steve Strimling

He has been an official for over three decades, now a Command Replay Center Supervisor for the Big 12 with training and grading responsibilities and continuing as director of USFL Officiating and Supervisor of the SCIAC. He is a successful businessman in the footwear industry. Not content with simply advancing his own officiating career, Strimling has made helping other officials advance in their on-field pursuits part-and-parcel to his own success. He does everything he can to help other officials no matter what they are in their journey.